Friday, May 22, 2009

Thank God for Motherf***ing Post-Its

I swear to God, someone with ADHD must have invented those f*ckers. They are pure genius, pure life saver, and they come in such nice colors these days. I like the hot pink an awful lot.

Post-Its make up for my mind's total lack of RAM. The steering wheel and the desk are a carnival of neon notes. And each one can hold one idea. So unlike a to-do list, which tortures you until you have finished the whole damn thing, you get to throw a Post-It away as each single item is addressed. Instant satisfaction.

The power of choice...

Medication is, of course, one treatment that people may choose for ADHD. It's easy to think of the medication as a quick fix though and that's truly not the most useful way to think about it. First of all, different medications may do or not do different things for different people. Second, medication sets the stage for focus, but is not necessarily the thing that ensures that you will. It does create the conditions so that it is easier for you to simply stay on task and not be pulled in 5 other directions, but even in a life made less scattered by medication, there is still free will.

I can choose to finish a pile of work, or not. It's more likely that I will finish it, with a medication soothed mind, because I will not be as propelled to stray...but even a calmed mind can choose to watch television instead. Or choose to drive to the ice cream stand. Because honestly...with my mind a little quieter, THOSE things are more fun because I can actually focus on them, too, not just the work, and sometimes it's more fun to choose those things. The difference manifests when you realize you can choose to do or not do things...rather than being urgently compelled to dart around. What a wonderful feeling, to be able to choose.

I am still adjusting to medication, so I don't know for sure yet if this drug will end up being a long term thing for me (it's not a stimulant and the adjustment period is subtle and slow)...but even at this point I have moments of lovely quiet in my mind where I can steadily pace through a stack of undesireable work tasks, or choose to pull my bike out of the garage and slowly ride around town and just enjoy it without thinking about 5 things I am afraid I'm going to forget to do later because I don't have a pen and paper in hand.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Terror Alert

You know how intelligence agencies talk about the "chatter" they hear through intelligence circles that indicate a rise in terrorist activity. That probably the perfect way to explain what is happening inside my head today. When I started taking my medication over a week ago, it left me a bit groggy, but my mind was actually blissfully clear of the stuff that constantly bounces around in it. As my body continues to adjust to the medication however, I suppose I am bound to have days like this. I had become so accustomed to the quiet in my head over the last week or so, that now that the "chatter" is back, it's driving me absolutely nuts. It certainly drives home for me the significance of the level of distraction in my brain that I had learned to live with over the previous 33 years. It makes me really proud of myself that I had learned many creative ways to manage it, so that I could "pass" for appropriate. It also makes me really hope that I will be able to get back to that quiet space, at least some of the time, once the medication finally decides if it is "right" for me. I don't need perfection. But a small break from the constant idea-splosions in my brain would be nice. Even a softening of their insistence makes it easier for me to focus on whatever task may be at hand.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 8, with Mr. Strattera

We've taken to referring to the Strattera, in this house, as "Mr. Strattera, the crazy Italian". As in "I have another date with Mr. Strattera, the crazy Italian" and my boyfriend says "Say hello to him for me..." with a very bad, stereotypical Italian accent. It's too soon to tell if he's doing what he's supposed to be doing to my brain, but he seems to be busy anyway. Day one he was busy hitting me upside the head with a crazy Italian baseball bat of anxiety. Since then, side effects and effects have ranged from paralyzing to motivating. The NP says I'm apparently "sensitive to the medication". Um. Yeah...pretty much.

Ironically, Strattera is the drug they give you if you have ADHD accompanied by symptoms of anxiety. It's supposed to give you focus, without exacerbating your existing anxiety. One of the initial potential side effects at the beginning anxiety. Mean trick. Though when he's not torturing me with anxiety (like so many bad boyfriends before him), I feel interestingly calm, my mind refreshingly still. It will take several weeks to determine if the crazy Italian is the "right guy" for my brain. Here on Day 8 though, things seem to be going in a decent direction. I am at peace with the fact that this process will take time and I think I can stick out the rough patches.

The therapist and the NP have both given me the homework to "practice focusing on the really boring stuff and see what happens". Well the other day I did just that and got a 6-month old backlog of work done. Holy cannoli Mr. Strattera! Keep this up and I'll be moving the boyfriend out and YOU in, full time.

And I'm only on Day 8.

Begin at the beginning...

The backstory to what brought me to this point will all come out in time, but to answer a few quick questions:

18 Channels? That's pretty much what my brain, unmedicated, receives simultaneously. It's a party, and it's an obstacle all at the same time.

And you are? That will probably come out in time too, but for now, this journey is new, my life is somewhat public, and honestly, I don't feel like discussing my medication trials and errors with my entire community. But I DO feel like discussing them with you, if you're still reading ;) In my personal life, I am very transparent about my ADHD, and feel an obligation to share that aspect of myself. In my public life, I'll save the unveiling for a later date.

ADHD? So much more than the stereotypes that pervade American thinking to this point. It's not just for hyperactive 7-year old boys anymore folks.

And why a blog? My own ADHD journey has created a hunger for more information about other people's experiences. I am returning the favor.

Hey, it's after midnight EST, shouldn't you be in bed? Yeah. If I didn't have ADHD and could shut my brain off for two secs instead of worrying about a plan for focusing at work tomorrow, and thinking about the press releases I should have sent out this afternoon instead of baking cookies and bread and going to art shows. Did I mention I also painted three portraits while watching a baseball game today?